While American Idol remains TV’s undisputed No. 1 show, ratings are down in its 11th season while NBC’s The Voice is coming on strong. Here are 8 reasons why The Voice is on the rise while Idol has nowhere to go but down.
1. It’s Fresh
Dozens of wannabes and knock-offs tried to capitalize on the success of American Idol, but they pretty much all copied the same format of people singing and being judged by a panel. The Voice turns this format around — literally — by having the judges’ backs to the contestants during auditions. While the current season of Idol feels tired and predictable, The Voice still exudes that new-show smell TV viewers love.
2. Purely the Vocals
The Voice’s primary gimmick is also its greatest asset, forcing the judges to hear each contestant’s voice without seeing what he or she looks like. There’s a purity to this idea that is brilliant in its simplicity, hearkening back to the days when songs could become hits on AM radio without listeners necessarily knowing what the performers looked like.
3. Voting Limits
On American Idol, you can cast as many votes as you like, which typically leads to 12-year-old girls ensuring the week’s cutest contestant always makes it through. The Voice, on the other hand, limits viewers to 10 votes per method — via phone, Facebook, online or iTunes download. This lessens the odds of Idol’s notorious “are-you-freakin’-kidding-me” voting results that can be summed up in a single word: Sanjaya.
4. No Wackos
While it’s admittedly a guilty pleasure to watch the deluded freaks, mutants and weirdos who are trotted before the judges during Idol’s early audition rounds, this has become a distraction that has nothing to do with the actual competition. By keeping the obvious lunatics off the stage, The Voice gets right down to business.
5. Consistent Mentoring
Although both shows bring in celebrity mentors, this has been hit-or-miss on Idol, with the different-mentor-each-week format yielding wildly inconsistent results. The Voice, however, assembled an impressive array of mentors for its battle rounds — including Kelly Clarkson, Miranda Lambert, Ne-Yo, Alanis Morissette and Jewel — who returned to work with contestants on an ongoing basis, resulting in more meaningful mentoring.
When Steven Tyler and Jennifer Lopez joined American Idol, the perception was of falling stars desperately seeking relevance — and a fat paycheque — by joining TV’s No. 1 show. Over on The Voice, each of the four judges has had recent mainstream success, and the show actually propelled judge Adam Levine’s Moves Like Jagger to become a massive hit.
7. No Group-Sing
You know those cringe-inducing, poorly lip-synched numbers the Idol contestants are forced to do at the beginning of each results show, in which they shamble zombie-like through a hideously choreographed song-and-dance number reminiscent of something Up With People would have performed on Sonny and Cher back in 1975? The Voice doesn’t do that.
8. Cee-Lo’s Cat
Having a fluffy white pussycat sit on his lap during the show so it makes him look like a James Bond super villain is so far beyond eccentric it’s actually kind of cool. What’s even cooler? It’s not even his cat!